UCL Institute of the Americas


Mapping and Imaging Indigeneity: The Commemorative French Geodesic Mission to Ecuador, 1901-1906

11 February 2020, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

IHR and UCL Americas

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Institute of Historical Research and UCL Institute of the Americas


Seminar Room 105
UCL Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square

In part to determine absolute global time, between 1901 and 1906 the French military outfitted a scientific mission to Ecuador to measure the curve of the equatorial meridian and commemorate the famous eighteenth-century Franco-Hispanic Geodesic Mission led by Charles Marie de la Condamine. The commemorative mission’s medical doctor, Paul Rivet, took advantage of the moment to develop a complex web of informants across the Andean and Amazonian sections of the country for a study of indigenous physiology and culture. This paper focuses on the interplay between the mission’s mapping project, its commemorative gestures and Rivet’s ethnology, with an emphasis upon the local sources of Rivet’s study.

About the Speaker

Ernesto Capello is Professor of Latin American History at Macalester College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and is the author of City at the Center of the World: Space, History, and Modernity in Quito (Pittsburgh 2011), as well as over twenty articles and book chapters. He is also the author of Mapping Mountains: A Review (forthcoming, Brill) and co-editor of Cartography and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth-Century Americas (forthcoming, Routledge). He is currently completing a history of geodesy and visual culture in the equatorial Andes and beginning a new project on U.S. goodwill tours.